Supply Chain, Supply Chain, Supply Chain!!! At this point you had to have been living under a rock not to hear about supply chain issues and rising costs of, well… everything. Unfortunately, Stenograph has not been spared the same pain everyone is feeling across the world.
At the beginning of the pandemic, it was paper goods and cleaning supplies, which made sense since everyone was staying home and disinfecting until they had no skin left on their hands. Seriously, how many times did you think about sneaking into the office just to grab that canister of wipes or a roll of precious toilet paper? Now, going into our third year, it seems like random items are difficult to come by. Recently, I was in the grocery store and several people were in the aisle talking about where to find Pillsbury croissants. A couple of months ago, it was the same conversation with cream cheese, and there are ongoing shortages in aluminum canned goods like soda, seltzers, and canned vegetables. Thankfully, Stenograph isn’t suffering from a cream cheese shortage, but it may surprise you to know that the same constraints on canned goods (aluminum), also applies to our parts.
Chip shortages and electronic component shortages have been all over the news as well. Those items don’t just affect car makers, but also ANY electronic device including writers. However, some of the strangest shortages we’ve seen are foam (for securely packing our machines for shipment), screws (to assemble machines), batteries (to power our machines), and plastic (the housing for the machines).
It was all over the news when the massive winter storm hit Texas in February of 2021, and caused power outages in freezing temps. What wasn’t reported on was that the storm caused chemical plants to shut down. The chemical, Propylene Oxide, is used to make foam and plastic. Stenograph has been feeling the effect of this for several months now. Furniture makers and plastic molders are all competing for the same chemical and while production of Propylene Oxide is back to normal, demand is still higher than normal, thus creating constraints. Our high school economics class taught us all about supply and demand. Demand is high and so are the prices – YIKES!
Let’s take a left turn and talk about batteries. Since the middle of 2021, experts have been predicting a lithium-ion shortage that will dwarf the chip component shortage. Part of this speculation is based on increased demand in EV (Electronic Vehicles). It may seem far-fetched to think that increased demand in EV would have a negative impact on our writers, but unfortunately, it’s not far-fetched at all. While we don’t use a car-sized battery in our machines (how awful would that be to carry around?), EV batteries and writer batteries are comprised of the same basic materials. Stenograph did everything we could to mitigate the risk (looking for alternate sources for the cells and purchasing well in advance), but we were still negatively impacted, and sadly, so were our customers.
We continue to struggle with supply chain constraints and increased cost, but we are working day and night (literally day and night) to seek out alternate sources or be the first to bid on items that pop up on the global market. At Stenograph, we take supply chain issues very seriously and our team is working hard to do our part to keep the wheels of justice moving.